In the Paris Agreement, 195 nations acknowledge “that climate change is a common concern of humankind,” and agree to “respect, promote and consider their respective obligations on … intergenerational equity.” Intergenerational equity refers to the ethical principle that we should not discount the cost of harm when it falls on future generations. A number of other broad, basic, and also pragmatic ethical principles accompany intergenerational equity as the foundation for both national and international climate action, but it is necessary to take a moment and absorb the significance of this particular element of the world’s first universal agreement on climate action. That intergenerational equity should be a principle guiding how governments plan for and respond to climate disruption suggests a new baseline for international law: actions that project harm and degradation into the future must be avoided.
Future-building does not happen only in the halls of government.
The quality of life in my hometown was designed by many people deciding many different kinds of things at different levels. Our town acquired an important value added when Silvio, who ran the local pizza shop for three decades, decided, day after day, to commit his time to doing something of real quality for everyone else. I had the good fortune to grow up in a place where parents are involved in how the schools work, and a wider community of intellect and good will supports success.
The ACCESS to GOOD Project is an open, collaborative, ongoing reporting process, aiming to identify observable levers of action for adding value, momentum, and scope to investments in climate action and resilient human development.
ACCESS is a framework for analyzing the level of progress on comprehensive climate action. The axis standard aims to measure six qualifications of public policy, investment prioritization and business action:
GOOD is a framework for analyzing the generative tendencies, inclucing community-building reinforcements and local value added of day to day economic activity, at the human scale. This analysis operates on the premise that all economic behavior has at its roots a basic and specific demand for generative optimizing capabilities operating organically through routine human behavior.
by Joseph Robertson and David Thoreson
Published in The Guardian, February 12, 2016
On December 12, the 21st annual meeting of the world’s climate negotiators closed with adoption of the Paris Agreement. The task agreed by consensus among 195 nations is clear, ambitious, and complex: re-engineer the infrastructure of the global economy to eliminate practices that destabilize Earth’s climate system, while ensuring ongoing and expanded prosperity for all people everywhere.
That the task is difficult should not put us back on our heels. As we move into new territory, we will face new obstacles. This is how we learn, how we know if we are up to the challenge, how we know which adjustments to make, and how we succeed in crossing an unknown ocean.
The following is the content of a Citizens’ Climate University lesson delivered Thursday, February 4, 2016, on the Paris Agreement, Citizens’ Climate Lobby’s organizing to support a strong outcome at COP21, the ongoing work of the Citizens’ Climate Engagement Network, and how all of this translates into citizen policy action in the United States.
The lesson is broken into four sections:
- How the UNFCCC Process Works
- CCL’s Paris Ground Game
- How the Paris Agreement Mobilizes Action
- What does that mean for CCL and the US?
Now that 195 nations have agreed to collaborate for comprehensive global climate action, the International Monetary Fund has published a report calling for a carbon tax on shipping and aviation. The argument is very simple: these emissions cause widespread economic distortion and are a hidden drag on the build-up of new economic value; correcting for that error gives us a more efficient economy and a healthier future.
For a long time, we have listened to advocates against any and all taxation talk about the “destruction” of economic value by the imposing of unnecessary costs on business and investment activity. What they are referring to is the question of market distortion, which hampers overall economic efficiency, and equates to opportunity cost—the loss of otherwise likely economic activity and new value creation. For some businesses, specific economic distortions add to the cost of doing business; for others, the distortion tilts the landscape of economic activity or direct investment in their favor.
Some major oil companies will thrive in the emerging low-carbon economy; some will not. Even the most profitable will face tough choices between a varied array of complicated transition pathways: some will remain large, global, and centralized; others will function more like associations of smaller businesses; the least innovative will eventually cease operations. The difference between thriving and obsolescence will be business model innovation.
The 2016 US Presidential election is once again being framed as a brutal contest of wills between two disparate ideological camps: the activist government liberal and the skeptical libertarian conservative. Neither party is actually offering anything like that kind of decisive metaphysical clarity. On both sides, there are deep divisions over how to put ideas into practice and which ideas express the “pure” sense of principled public service.
The world is more connected than ever, and this means all issues of public controversy are now more complex than ever. Every choice, whether in the realm of action or in the realm of ideas, has ramifications. Interconnectedness and complexity mean those ramifications are less and less likely to flow directly from the ideological core of a given way of acting, thinking or talking. Read More
For the first 12 days of December, our team was on the ground in Paris for the COP21, engaging with peers, meeting with negotiators, publishing reports, interviewing participants, and working to support coalition efforts that would add smarter policies, actionable language and serious principles, to the Paris Agreement. During more than a year of planning for this work and defining our goals, I had the privilege of discussing on various occasions with senior diplomats how the Paris climate talks could serve as an irreversible expansion of the civic space. Paris could mark a new step forward in the work of building democratic processes around the world.